Christmas in Blue Dog Valley by Annie England Noblin – Q&A

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Annie England Noblin who is celebrating today’s release of Christmas in Blue Dog Valley. Read our 5 star review of the book here.

What inspired you to start writing?

I’d just turned 30, had a new baby, a new job, a relatively new husband, and had moved back to my hometown. Everything in my life was incredibly stressful. I’d had this idea for a novel in my head for years, but for some reason or other, I’d never begun writing it. I think at the time, I needed a world that I could control and characters that I could create. It was my way of escaping and dealing with everything I had going on in my life at the time, which as I said, was a LOT.

How long have you been writing?

As long as I can remember. My grandparents bought me my first journal when I was 8, and I proceeded to write very bad rhyming poetry. All I’ve ever really wanted to do is write.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Goldie is the first heroine I’ve ever written who didn’t have some kind of trauma in their background aside from a bad breakup. I wanted to try writing a character who was, for the most part, not afraid to love and not afraid to start over again. Most of my characters have issues that prevent them from being fully present in their lives, but Goldie is different.

What are you reading now?

Right now I’m reading Beach Read by Emily Henry. My sister-in-law gave Book Lovers while we were on vacation, and I LOVED it, so now I’m on a journey to read every book she’s ever written. That’s what I do when I find a writer I love. I have to read all of their books before I can read anything else.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve always sort of considered myself a writer in my head, but even now, it’s hard for me to say it out loud. I find that this is true for many writers. We put weird expectations on ourselves, and we are hesitant, when someone asks what we do, to be honest and just say, “Oh, I’m a writer!” I don’t know if it’s imposter syndrome or that we’re afraid of sounding silly, but saying those words is hard!

Describe your writing space.

Ha! I wish I had my own writing space! I live in a 1500 square foot bungalow with my husband, 11-year-old son, a Pug, four cats, and an axolotl. I do have an iMac that is in our spare room, but it’s with my husband’s computer as well as my son’s, so it doesn’t really feel like my space. Most of the time, I’ll take my laptop into the bedroom, shut the door, and sit on the bed and write. Once in a while, I’ll go outside, but I have to be honest—outside isn’t really my jam.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

I teach English and Communications full-time for a local university, so my writing schedule is a little all over the place. I have a rule that I try to write at least 1,000 words a day, and I also try to give myself one day off a week. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I find myself writing on nearly anything I can find when I’m not at my computer—scraps of paper, notebooks, sometimes even my hand!

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I’ve written 7. I think that my favorite is St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets, just because it came as such a surprise to me. I began writing it during a really rough patch in my life—I’d just lost my best friend of 20 years to cancer and my infant niece to Trisomy 18, all within a 6-month period. I thought the book would go in one direction, but it ended up that the characters had a different plan. The result was something I never could have imagined, and all these years later, I’m still in love with it.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I’ve always hated this question! I can remember being asked this question in elementary school. In 4th grade, we were asked to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I had no idea. I just copied off of the kid next to me who wanted to be a doctor. The truth is, I’ve NEVER known who or what I want to be when I grow up, and at 40, I’m still not sure if I know. I want to be everything. I want to do everything. I want to see everything. I think that’s one reason I like writing so much. I can live vicariously through my characters.

Ebook or print? And why?

I prefer print, but I live in a rural area. I can’t just drive down the road and buy any book I want, so I have to use an e-reader much of the time. I can always order books online, but I’m impatient. I also really like audiobooks. I drive two hours a day for work, which means I listen to a LOT of audiobooks. I especially like listening to audiobooks when I’m playing video games. My son introduced me to Fortnite a couple of years ago, and I play almost every day now. I also play a lot of Call of Duty, and I’ve found that audiobooks are way more fun to listen to than other players trash talking!

What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

By nature, I am not a particularly romantic person. My husband is much more romantic than I am. I often find it hard to express my romantic feelings. Maybe that’s why it’s easier to write them in a novel. I tend to be sarcastic. I roll my eyes more than any human should be allowed. The softer side of me comes out when I’m writing.

What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?

My mother always told me that the worst thing anybody could ever say was “no.” I’ve taken that to heart when it comes to writing. I’ve been turned down a lot by people over the years, but that’s okay. I always knew that one day, someone would say yes. As far as the worst writing advice I’ve ever gotten, well, it was to stop doing it. When I was in college, I had a poetry professor tell me he didn’t think I was cut out for the creative writing program and that I should consider something different. It broke my heart. I didn’t write for nearly a year after. I had to learn that I can’t always take what people say about my work to heart. Not everybody has my best interest in mind, and not everybody knows what they’re talking about—even if they’re published!

When Goldie McKenzie, DVM, vet to the L.A. pet stars, arrives from Los Angeles to Blue Dog Valley she realizes three things:

Never agree to upend your life when you’re hungover.
Pot-belly pigs are not true farm animals.
She’s going to need a warmer coat.

At first Goldie is nothing more than a fish out of water, with few clients and few friends. Her clientele grows to include the many farm animals in the town, including a horse named Large Marge, a cape-wearing therapy alpaca, and a yardful of sweater-wearing goats. Add in Kevin, the “worst sheepdog in Blue Dog Valley,” and a Sphinx cat named Airport, and Goldie is having the best time a vet can have. . . aside from the annoying attractive town grump, Cohen, who seems intent on making sure she always feels like an outsider.

With her newfound goodwill, Goldie comes up with an idea to reinvigorate the once flourishing Blue Dog Valley: a Christmas carnival. After only some brief resistance from Cohen and his father, they begin the great plan to reinvigorate Blue Dog Valley. Will Christmas be enough to salvage this dying town—and be enough to bring Goldie closer to a certain grumpy man?

Whether you come for the Hallmark-movie magic or stay for the sweet animal antics, CHRISTMAS IN BLUE DOG VALLEY is the perfect feel-good holiday novel that readers won’t want to miss. It’s the perfect addition to any upcoming holiday or Christmas-in-July roundups!

About the Author: Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and three dogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in creative writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English and communications for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, Arkansas. She spends her free time playing make-believe, feeding stray cats, and working with animal shelters across the country to save homeless dogs.

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